Friday, March 31, 2006

Don't believe everything on the TV

Thanks to everyone who has expressed their concern about my safety in Paris during the demonstrations. However, there is no need to worry; the demonstrations are not nearly as bad as they look on TV. The only way I would really be in danger would be if I ran into the middle of a group of angry men. The angry men aren't usually even protesters, they just go to provoke the police and start bad situations. I don't know why they do what they do, but I have to honestly say that I doubt that it has anything to to with the implementation of new employment laws in France.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I love French clowns!

I have to repeat the title once again: I love French clowns!

Although the show I saw was sold to me as a "clown show", the description is a bit lacking. When they say clown they refer to a cabaret sort of clowning that doesn't involve white face paint and clunky shoes. The act consisted of the cute French Mr.Bean character, the handsome man who wore an orange housecoat most of the time, and the skinny guy with the long thin hair who has the silliest body movements ever. It turned out to be a lot of slapstick, some song, silent theater, dancing and lots of laughs. Joe, the Canadian clown, was just there as a guest and did his own parts at the beginning and end. Zosia and I were clinging to each other throughout a lot of the show so that we wouldn't fall out of our chairs. I didn't even understand all of it and it was hilarious. Obviously I can't possibly describe the amazing comedy that I witnessed on Monday, but I can say that if you are in Paris before May that you should see the show. Afterwards we got to go out with the clowns for Chinese food. Thanks to Joe the Canadian clown for the free tickets!

Well, I'm off to do corrections for my job in good old Germany. What would the geoscientists do without me?

A Canadian "Clown"

This is Joe, the "clown" to whom I owe my many thanks for the free tickets to the show. Joe performed two acts, one as an olmympic gymnast or interpretive dancer for Canada, and the other as, well, maybe a lounge singer. Posted by Picasa

A French "Clown"

Patrick the clown. One of the best physical comedians I have ever seen. Posted by Picasa

Instructional Clown Poster

I've always sort of associated the circus with the French, and I was right to do so. This instructional poster instructs one in the ways of clowning. More on clowns in today's entry. Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 27, 2006

General Strike!

One interesting happening that I don't think I've mentioned thus far is the continuing student protests and strikes in Paris. Students in Paris and across France have been protesting a recently passed law that allows employers to fire new employees under the age of 26 at any time, without having to give a reason within their first two years of employement. Zosia, who is a student of Political Science at the Sorbonne, hasn't had classes for the past three weeks. Although I've often been known to enjoy a little bit of peaceful protest myself, I'm not sure if I'm so behind the French students this time. Like Zosia so apptly said, "Sounds like what North American graduates have always had to deal with." But, this is an incredibly common way to deal with domestic issues in France, so I'm sure it's fitting.

So why am I bringing this up now? Because tomorrow is the first general strike. Yup, you heard me, general. That means that everyone and their mother is striking. (read about it)About half of the metro trains will be running and most public employees will be smoking cigarettes and hanging out in the parks (that's what I see the French doing a lot). I have two choices: I can ride an incredibly packed subway the 20 minutes to school, or I can walk for about an hour and enjoy Paris at an hour that I rarely really take a good look at it. Sounds like a hard choice, doesn't it?

I'll let you know how the strike goes and if it affects the life of an American in Paris at all. As long as there are still a few people selling baguette, I should be fine.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Paris: End of Week 2

Today I received an e-mail from my grandma, mentioning that I hadn't written in a week. Well, there hasn't been all that much to write about. But here we go:

I've been in my language class now for a week and I really like it. My teacher, Cecile, is wonderful and manages to explain everything to us in French and understand all of our horribly formulated questions. We're absolute beginners, so I'm sure it is a struggle for her. In answer to some of your questions, my conversation French isn't quite existent yet. I'm working on formulating basic sentences: telling people how old I am, explaining the location of objects and learning to conjugate some verbs. Until the vocabulary grows a bit, I'll be pretty limited in my conversational abilities. Every day is better than the last and I think I'll be a pretty advanced beginner by the time I leave in three weeks.

As far as Paris goes, well, I'm not wild about it. Yes, it's a lovely city, but it hasn't yet captured my heart or imagination. The homogeneity in clothing and style is very disapointing, as I had hoped that the Parisiens would be a well dressed and stylish bunch. However, I'm only two weeks into my 5 week adventure, so I'm sure I still have a lot ahead of me.

One thing I really do love is the grocery store. Single servings of fois gras and cheese as far as the eye can see. I've started running to reverse the effects of my high everything diet.

Well, that's about all for now. It's Sunday night and the homework is calling!
Some important information for the parisien public. Posted by Picasa

Eifel Tour, Peace Monument and the tops of our heads

A few days ago, Zosia and I had a lovely lunch of cheese, baguette, and a peppermint Ritter Sport chocolate bar in this park. Posted by Picasa

Yay for free public automated toilets!

Much to my relief, the automated public toilets in paris are free of charge and are completely cleaned after every use. I could even wash my hands and dry them with a great warm electric dryer. Bonus points for Paris! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Paris is grand!

Hello hello dear everyone!

I've been here for about a week now and am having a delightful time. For the most part, I've been consuming cheese and other delicious food stuffs. Lucky for me, my kindergarten best-buddy, Natalie, lives in a fantastic apartment here in Paris, and I get to crash here for the month. Even better is that her roommate is pals with one of my best friends from college, Zosia. So, although I'm speaking far too much English at the moment, I am enjoying the company of some wonderful old friends (and one new one too -- you have not been forgotten Colin!).

My french classes started on Thursday and was really quite amusing. Like most beginning language classes, we all felt a bit lost and scared, but managed to spit out some mangled French. I think we'll be a good group. Everyone seems like they really want to do this and no one is so advanced as to make the others feel timid.

On Friday, Colin, Zosia, and I took a trip to the Cite de Science. It is supposed to be a fun and interactive science museum, but it fell a bit short on the interactive side. We had a great time being silly, but the hands-on side of the museum was a bit lacking. I guess after so many visits to Discovery World in Milwaukee and the science museum in Amsterdam, my standards are pretty high.

Zosia and I have also done a bit of walking around the city and exploring a bit. One of our favorite pasttimes is to eat cheese and fresh baguette in the parks of Paris. As you can see, cheese is a constant theme in my trip.

This week will be jam packed with French learning and more exploration, so expect more pictures and perhaps accounts of exciting adventures in the near future!

Colin and Zosia after St.Pattie's Day. A good time was had by all. Posted by Picasa

A book vending machine at the science machine! I wish these would catch on at train stations and parks. Posted by Picasa

Zosia and Colin at the science museum. They each stuck a hand into a long rubber glove and could then hold hands, although none of us knew why. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A stunning doorway in, you guessed it, Paris. Posted by Picasa
Three ducks out for a stroll at the Jardins de Trocadero. Indeed, it was a lovely day for a jaunt. Posted by Picasa
For Grandma! Lovely male brindle riding the metro. Posted by Picasa
The manliest sport of them all: Petanque. Like Bocci Ball, Petanque is a game that involves throwing metal balls at each other. For whatever reason, only men play it in Paris. Please note the coat wrack in the back on the left. Posted by Picasa
Welcome to the militarized state of France! There are student protests going on now and the police are EVERYWHERE! But even without the protests, security in France is tight and soldiers with semi-automatic machine guns patrol the train stations. For some reason I don't feel safer . . . Posted by Picasa
Zosia toasting the camera (or the camera woman) with her very small French beer. The beer itself if Belgian, but the very small bottle is all France's fault. Posted by Picasa

Much to my delight, pink is the standard color of TP here in France. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 12, 2006

These are a few of my favorite things . . .

For awhile I've been thinking about taking pictures or my very favorite things in Tübingen and making a photo album. After thinking about it a lot and looking at the things I like a lot in Tü, I've finally started moving about with my camera again. This is only the beginning.

These critters live in the window of a clock shop. I'm not quite sure what they have to do with clocks.

 Posted by Picasa

I think this picture pretty much says it all. I'm constantly amused by this silly reference to the 90's hit "Insane in the Brain".

 Posted by Picasa

Favorite Thing #1: "Water + Forest = Paper" Well, yeah, I guess.

 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Words of Admiration for Book Crossing

Years and years ago I read about people leaving books in public places. Leaving books with the purpose of them being found and read by others. Individuals do such things frequently, I believe. The great thing is that you can register your books on Book Crossing and track their travels.
After years of waiting, I finally found such a book. Unfortunately, it stinks. The plot was barely worthy of Days of Our Lives. My enthusiasm is hardly diminished, however. I will be "releasing" my first book "into the wild" within the next few days and I encourage all of you, wherever you are, to do the same.

Off to gay Par-ee!

Ok, I'm not really off to gay Par-ee yet, but on Monday I will be! I can't believe it's four days away. I'm so utterly unprepared and I like it. After all these years of travel I've finally become somewhat good at packing (which basically means I can do it quickly and I don't forget my pajamas), meaning I should be able to thrown things together on Sunday and be ok for a month.

While in Paris, I'll be taking an intensive French class that meets Monday-Friday from 8:30am - 1:30pm (Alliance Francaise). I took 1/2 of a French class in Tübingen in the fall, but it didn't work out so well, in both learning and schedule ways, and so I gracefully withdrew myself (aka I quit, boo). So I'm thinking I'll still be in the absolute beginner class when I get there, and as long as I'm not in the absolute beginner class when I leave, everything should be just fine.

What do I plan to do in my free time? Funny you should ask. My very first order of duty is to find a French soap opera to become addicted to. The requirements is that it be trashy and aired every weekday. Cheap soap operas helped me immensely as I learned Germany -- easy plots that you can follow without understanding and that creepy addictive quality make for the perfect combo. Other than that, I also plan to walk around a lot and maybe talk to strangers while I'm at it. Chances are I'll also be spending some quality time with my lovely old friends Natalie and Zosia. Many of you may remember Natalie from the elementary school part of my life and Zosia from the university in Canada part. Both of them are living in Paris at the moment and I will have the pleasure of enjoying their company (and hospitality) all month long.

Well, I should get back to writing my paper on militarized masculinities in UN peacekeeing.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Definately one of the most beautiful nights I have ever experienced in T�bingen. Posted by Picasa

Snowy night. Yet another picture taken from my window. This one involved me standing on me bed with the window open for a long time and playing with the shutter speed a lot. Posted by Picasa

Trees with snow. Also taken from window. I guess I like the window shots because then everone can see the image as I've seen if from my desk. Posted by Picasa

The view from my new window. I say "new" window because I moved. The new apartment is great. The new roommate is great. The view is great. I am happy. Posted by Picasa

Daily Affirmation: My life is interesting.

This blog has never really gotten off the ground for two reasons. One, I often forget I have it. Two, I have been involved in a rather long-term and intense discussion with myself about whether my life is interesting enough for a blog or not. My darling Kristen helped clear the whole thing up for me by telling me about a blog she read, wherein someone wrote in detail about every single moment of his schedule. She also made the excellent argument that "your boring life" is the stuff that your friends and family care about.

Welcome to my blog, welcome to my interesting life.